As NHS appointment no-shows continue to cost the NHS millions each year, Induction Healthcare’s Paul Tambeau bets on digital empowerment for a turnaround. By Owen Hughes

Missed appointments continue to cost the NHS millions each year – something to the tune of £216 million, according to figures from NHS England. With nearly eight million people currently waiting for treatment, every wasted slot siphons off precious NHS resources and stops patients getting the care they need, when they need it.

For Paul Tambeau, CEO of Induction Healthcare, the key to better managing NHS waitlists lies in patient empowerment.

By equipping individuals with accessible, digital tools that keep them informed and allow them to easily manage their appointments, patients are encouraged to be more proactive in their care – and less likely to end up as another did not attend (DNA) statistic.

Early data from Induction’s Zesty patient engagement portal (PEP) suggests this approach can reduce no-shows by nearly a third on average. “There are a lot of wasted appointments because people just don’t show up – they forget, or they didn’t realise it was being rescheduled,” says Tambeau.

“Put information into the hands of patients – not through a letter that gets lost, or lost in the mail – where you can remind people of their appointments and allow them to reschedule or cancel. We’ve seen on average a 30% reduction in DNAs.”

The app appetite

The Induction Zesty PEP is part of NHS England’s Wayfinder programme, which aims to reduce backlogs by allowing patients to easily view and manage their appointments via the NHS App and access information about their elective care.

More than 2.5 million patients can now access Zesty from the NHS App, offering capabilities like real-time appointment management, access to clinical letters and documentation, single sign-on and in-app messaging.

For Tambeau, the figures speak to a growing appetite in paperless, digital services – one that is reflected not just in healthcare, but across all sectors and industries.

“We see a lot of patients taking a lot of action when you put [Zesty] in front of them, and wanting that engagement with their care journey,” he says.

Digital forms offered through Zesty also help identify patients who no longer need follow-up appointments, freeing up slots more quickly. “We see, when given the option, almost 70% of patients opt to go paperless, which is good for administrative cost savings for the NHS, but I think also just demonstrates that patients increasingly want to be able to see their appointments and take control,” adds Tambeau.

Delivering flexibility

For trusts with the longest waitlists, even a marginal reduction in appointment waste makes a tangible difference. After all, with every slot saved, another patient moves up the queue for treatment.

Video consultations can deliver significant value here, offering patients and clinical teams more choice and flexibility over how, where and when they hold appointments.

According to Induction, more than 12 million appointments have been held on its Attend Anywhere platform across the whole of the NHS since April 2020. Around 74% of NHS trusts in England use Attend Anywhere for video consults, says Tambeau.

“In the last six months or so, about a million appointments have been supported through our video portal,” he adds.

“Video really makes things more accessible… A lot of clinicians are seeing the value of video through practice, and there’s an element of ‘stickiness’ we’re seeing.”

Where platforms like Attend Anywhere really shine is in reducing unnecessary visits to hospitals. This minimises travel burdens for patients and supports them in addressing health concerns more quickly.

This is particularly beneficial for older patients living in remote areas, where physically attending an appointment can involve travelling long distances across difficult terrain. Such was the case at NHS Grampian, where remote consultations powered by Attend Anywhere reduced wait times for first appointments from 72 weeks to 14 weeks between April 2020 and October 2022.

Likewise, video platforms can make it easier to facilitate multidisciplinary consultations and improve care coordination for complex cases that involve input from multiple specialties, or across different care settings.

Tambeau explains: “If you think about mental health and some mental health cases, where you need multidisciplinary teams to come together – a social worker, a therapist, a doctor and the patient – from an efficiency standpoint, being able to use video to have that multidisciplinary interaction can be quite compelling.”

Unique EHR integration

Strategic partnerships play an important role in Induction’s roadmap. Key among these is Zesty’s bi-directional integration with Oracle Health, which allows seamless data exchange between Oracle’s electronic health record (EHR) and Induction’s Zesty portal.

Tambeau explains that, traditionally with portal solutions, collected data is returned as unstructured free text formats, such as emails or PDF. Administrators then have to manually process this data so that it can be recorded into the clinical system.

Through Zesty’s integration with Oracle, however, information is automatically fed into the appropriate workflows without the need for additional data entry tasks, reducing the administrative burden on staff.

“We’re the only portal provider that has that, and that adds a lot of value for both patients and clinicians,” says Tambeau. Additional integrations are in the works for Access Rio and Patient Knows Best, with Tambeau hinting at further partnership announcements in the near future. “Watch this space,” he adds.

A full agenda for Rewired 2024

At Rewired 2024, taking place on 13-14 March at the NEC in Birmingham, Induction will showcase an overhauled video call interface for Attend Anywhere, which Tambeau says has been built with feedback from NHS customers in mind.

Delegates at Rewired will also get their very first look at the new Attend Anywhere integration with Zesty. “We’ve actually, just in the last couple of weeks, launched a sort of first-of-type where you can launch a video appointment from within our portal,” says Tambeau.

“We think there are a number of use cases where that can really unlock a lot of value.”

Other Rewired highlights will include Induction’s latest work on third-party integrations and tools enabling patient-initiated follow-ups (PIFUs) outside of traditional pathways – again aimed at reducing waitlists and helping patients manage their own care.

“We’re using the capabilities within our portal to support some very specific pathways within the system,” says Tambeau.

He concludes: “We’re looking forward to a really good, productive two days.”

Contact Induction Health:

Twitter: @InductionHQ